corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


16 Comments

Sucker for Sales 2

And here we are again…… fabric sales purchases and what to do with them. This time it’s a fluffy, soft knit made with a remarkable combination of fibres such as cashmere, mohair, a bit of silk and a few sparkly threads and from – yeah, you know where – Joel and Son…..a cut length of 1.5m.

The fabric is sort of like a boiled wool; it’s a knit, like a proper knit with no fraying but softer with a right and wrong side. It’s primarily grey (my favourite) but has tones of violet/lilac – more of a heathered look that is not readily recognisable in my crappy photographs. The inside is sparkly and I suppose could have been used the other way round for evening wear. I choose day wear. Believe me, this is a complicated fabric.

I pressurised myself into making something that warranted the price: not sure I achieved that goal but I did get a very serviceable skirt and top: that can be worn together and also separately which stretches the serviceability.

Skirt pattern is Vogue, Katherine Tilton 8837 (OOP). This skirt has four seams with a hip yoke, elasticated waist(!) and curved hemline with small splits. The instructions are for lapped over side seams but I ignored that bit.

Easy to sew up and easy to wear. I serged the seams for extra strength as it’s a pull on skirt and it looks nice in the inside too.

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The top pattern is based on Burda 0521012 /101, cut short due to fabric limitations and whatever serviceable piece was leftover was used as a pocket.

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I had a bad experience with this dress pattern previously but I’m learning to love it and see the potential in many other ways apart from a sack-like shift dress.

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I just used the selvedge edge of the fabric as the top’s hem. The deep V neckline was stabilised with some black satin ribbon to keep it from stretching any further. It is not a top to wear on its own….

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This little outfit has a relaxed, yet ‘pulled together’ look, I think. The skirt is very comfortable and worn with the top, it creates an outfit. Best worn with a white shirt underneath for contrast and to break up the solid grey. Perfect for wearing under a coat as it keeps me warm without creating bulk.

It may not be the most flattering combination for my body, but sometimes (often) practicality and comfort are the priorities.

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So, elasticated waists in trousers was first and now in skirts! The real benefit of elasticated waists is that you can wear either the trousers or the skirt high up at actual waist level or pulled slightly down to hips, which changes the length.

The other day, one of my students asked if she could ‘touch’ my skirt – such is the tactile, fluffy and comforting appeal of this fabric – just like being wrapped in soft, delicious natural fibres. I let her……..

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Well, the winter holidays are finished – back to work tomorrow and half-way through the academic year. Marking papers will intensify from now on and hence, sewing time is reduced. Blogging will also therefore be restricted but I’ll do my best, after all, sewing keeps me grounded, sane and clothed!

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I often think that I could survive wonderfully on permanent holiday – like retired – but I am actually looking forward to going back to work. I love my job, I’m lucky. I like the routine, the pressures and even the stress – it pushes and challenges me. Sewing is my escape. Without the constraints of employment I don’t think sewing would mean as much to me as it currently does. We are constantly learning about ourselves – see Felicia’s honest assessment of herself, her 2016 review of sewing and her developing style to get you thinking……..

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29 Comments

Special Days

Honestly and truly, every day is special – there’s absolutely no doubt that we all have bad ones but somehow we wake up tomorrow, pull on our big-girls’ pants and deal with it. I’ve been lucky and very recently had the most amazing few days away with some very special people, so let’s start with Day 1 and move on from there.

Day 1

I’ve known for ages that one of my students won Outstanding Student of the Year (Public Services), an international competition organised by Pearson with nearly 1000 nominees and over 1,000,000 possible entrants. There was a media embargo until after the actual ceremony.

Alarm set for 5.00am. I already packed the night before and my outfit sewn and ready for the awards ceremony in London, hosted by Baroness Garden of Frognall in the Churchill Room in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster.

Arrived in London and headed straight to Cosmetics a la Carte for a professional, last-all-day make-up. Cost a small fortune but this is definitely a time to treat myself.

Whirlwind day of receptions, awards, ceremony, fun and networking. So many talented and inspiring young people. Mine is called Clare and we wore matching dresses.

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She is very special, battling illness while studying and then achieving the highest grades possible. A truly humbling experience to teach a student like this and so proud of her.

My dress is Burda 04-2016-119 worn with a light weight bright pink coat, which is a Merchant and Mills Haremere jacket made long. It’s unlined to cope with London city heat so all the raw seams had to be Hong Konged.

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I actually wanted to go for a ‘This old thing? I just threw it on” look: sort of understated, not obvious but still part of an outfit. To achieve this I half-lined the sleeves with dress fabric so that when the cuffs were folded back the cuff lining matched the dress. and when I don’t wear the two together, just unfold the sleeves. It’s a smarter alternative to a cardigan and more relaxed than a jacket.

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I actually got more compliments about the coat that I did my dress – perhaps the colour did it – it’s not easy to overlook. It’s looking a little the worse for wear after a full day wearing in London heat and humidity and then being unceremoniously stuffed into my travel bag.

20.30 Took the train from London to Preston for an extra few days of relaxation and enjoyment with my long-time friend Caroline. Did a bit of hand sewing on my Six Napoleon corset on the journey. Caroline and I re-connected last summer after 20 odd years apart and we haven’t looked back since.

Stayed up to 4.00am Friday, chatting and laughing like we were teenagers.

Day 2

Relaxing, lazy day at Caroline’s home  – I’d been up and on the go for 23 hours. Time to unpack, settle in, finish some conversations from the previous day ( same day). Watched Wimbledon and made plans.

Caroline is a photographer. Recently, we took one of her images and had it digitally printed onto silk. I hand rolled the edges and we both now have scarves that no-one else in the entire world has – that’s special.

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It’s not upside down – it’s a reflection!

Day 3

Darwen –
Day out to meet Mags at Minerva Crafts.

Such lovely people there: a family run business who were more than welcoming, friendly and very patient with us.

49ebbdc43fe9f5e69ec693ba019dd0afWe pulled bolts of fabric from the shelves, mixed and matched and generally created a little bit of mayhem on the cutting table. We advised other shoppers – only when they asked mind you – and had a lot of fun. We all bought loads: Caroline got some grey/taupe jerseys in animal-like prints; Mags got a stash and I got enough for an autumn outfit. We had a light lunch followed by a wander around the speciality food market.

Mags is fabulous; honest, stoic, funny and very, very stylish. I’ll be honest, I was getting a bit fed up with blogging and taking photos and all that stuff but meeting her has re-invigorated me and has made me grateful for those special Internet friends who become real ones.

Day 4 & 5

Hanging out, day trips and shopping – just lovely. Then home again.

Day 6- 9

Hooray, back into the sewing room. I love travelling and going away but there’s nothing like coming home either and doing what I love best. Sewed like a mad woman and before the end of the week I had sewn all of Caroline’s Minerva stash. I did add the odd bit of lace and cotton jersey but from 2.5m, I managed to get three tops and 1m ponte made a perfectly coordinating pair of trousers.

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Mainly the top pattern is Tilton’s Vogue 9057 (first and last) and the trousers are Vogue 8837 , another Tilton.

Caroline wore her first incarnation of this top at our day out at Minerva so I know it fits and suits her. The black and animal print (second) is Vogue 9193, another Marcy. Dead easy to sew as the sleeves are cut on but the pattern pieces are cut single layer and are therefore huge.

 

 

DSCN6354I was on a roll so I just kept going and added a few bonus but coordinating items to Caroline’s wardrobe.

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The light grey knit is a layering piece (the fabric is from my Minerva stash) and is actually the top half only of Vogue 9193. The pattern doesn’t actually tell you to do this but it works really well. So well in fact that I think I need one myself.V9193

The knit top will also go over any of Caroline’s other tunics too. It wasn’t easy to sew though,  the fine silky knit fabric had a mind of its own. I did my best not to stretch it out and used some leftover animal print jersey as a stabiliser around the neck, sleeves and hem. The ‘underneath’ tunic is made from other leftovers and here you can see where the top and bottom meet. There’s a built in pocket on the left hand side. If you sew this top, just watch out – the side seams on top and bottom half do not line up, the bottom half is offset (see the tech drawing). Ask me how I know this because I’m so smart I don’t have to read the instructions….!

All of Caroline’s Minerva fabric has now been sewn, posted and quite possibly already worn as Mr Postman was especially swift this week.

That’s you all up to date until next time…

 

 


80 Comments

Scuba Gardening

Frogs in a Bucket brought you plain and solid; Sewcraftychemist brought you stripes: both versions are absolutely fabulous with very accurate seam matching and are stunningly finished and flattering dresses, so much so that I had to make this dress. I have a bit of a posh thing to go to in July and thought I’d try this…. not in solid, not in stripes………

I bring you flowers!

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It’s not finished yet – need to hem and sort out the facing and maybe line the dress  but I’m feeling a wee bit guilty about not blogging and the sun was shinning.

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Burda 04-2016-119 – shift dress with asymmetrical neckline with detailed seaming.

It’s not a shift dress – it’s a very fitted dress! But don’t you just love those back darts?

I traced a size 42 and then fitted to body along the sides, taking in where I had to. I didn’t put in a back zip  – pointless, as the scuba stretches. And the sway back adjustment was a piece of cake as there is a waist seam, so just make a curved seam at the back. I started with the usual 5/8″ at the side and graduated to 1.5″ at centre back, then out again to 5/8″. Added 3.5″ to length and 1″ to bodice at waistline.

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Order of construction went like this:

  1. Sew front bodice and back bodice but leave centre back seam open. Sew together at shoulders, leaving side seams open too.
  2. Make facings, leaving centre back open and right side together, sew to bodice all the way around armholes and neckline. Trim and clip. Under stitch as far as possible.
  3. Pull the left back through the left shoulder seam and same for the right hand side.
  4. Press with a damp pressing cloth, 3 or 4 times.
  5. Sew centre back seam and facing all in one. Here’s a video to show you how.
  6. Sew front skirt and back skirt.
  7. Attach skirts to bodices.
  8. Put dress on and pin along both sides seams evenly to fit. Sew side seams and side seam on the facings in one go.
  9. Press, press, press
  10. Hem. (Yet to do)

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The whole of the front of the dress is cut on single layer fabric and you need about 1.5m . I got 2m which meant I could position the pattern pieces over certain flowers and fussy cut. There’s no way I was even going to attempt to pattern match. I’m making a long relaxed very fine wool pink coat to wear over and wanted more pink and purple flowers at the front as the coat will be open. The fabulous fabric is from Fabworks – Pretty Kitsch! Notes about scuba….

  1. Scuba – a spongy fabric that will not take a precision press
  2. Scuba – does not wrinkle  so can roll up in a suitcase for travelling
  3. Scuba – stretches to fit the body, even after a very large lunch or dinner
  4. Scuba – irony! – make a body con dress for people who have body con issues
  5. Scuba – disguises lumps and bumps – don’t know how, just accept and embrace it.
  6. Super to sew with; easy, stretchy, doesn’t fray.

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So, go sew this dress in geometric, animal, paisley, checks , colour blocks………

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37 Comments

The Letterless Letterman

Pay attention now, today we are going to learn something about men’s fashion……There is extra information and learning resources in the links below and I expect you all to do your own research and independent reading in preparation for your assignment due next week.


A bomber jacket:
typically made in leather or shearling with a collar, two front pockets and sometimes a zipped pocket on the left sleeve.

81DNbhWN8kL._SL1214_A Harrington jacket: usually cotton twill traditionally with a tartan lining, two front pockets and collar.

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A Letterman jacket: often made in wool, sometimes with raglan sleeves; two front pockets and collar in rib knit.

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All jackets have common features – rib knit around the hem and sleeves, pockets, length just above hip/below waist and were created for practicable menswear: bomber jackets for WWII pilots, Harringtons for golfers and the Letterman (also known as the Varsity Jacket) closely linked to Harvard University’s baseball team.

Easy now girls – here are some pictures of movie stars in jackets.

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Mmmmmm Steve…..        Right, where was I? Oh yes…

Thanks to your previous knowledge and expertise you recently directed me to a range of patterns suitable for teenage son who requested a jacket. I ended up selecting Burda 09/2014 134 as it is downloadable (almost instant) and cheap £3.99.

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All tiled, taped, seam allowances added and cut out; for your information, there are no separate pieces for the pockets you have to trace these off the front pattern and the waist and sleeve bands are just measured rectangles. The jacket has an applique letter, single welt pockets, separating long zip and is fully lined. The instructions were written in a language that I have never encountered before so for a simple looking jacket this was a major learning project. When all else fails, slip stitch the lining!

 

 

My son is very conservative in his colour palette – navy. I chose a navy quilted poly and a navy cotton/silk lining. His preferences lie in the plain and unadorned: absolutely no logos on his clothes, I have ripped out the Nike tick from sweatshirts and Hollister T-shirts are relegated to sleepwear only. After some consultation, we arrived at the final design – he refused to have the letter on his Letterman and wanted a Harrington collar instead of the rib knit version and most definitely not tight or fitted. In readiness for the next four years of learning, discovery and fun we proudly present the Letterless Letterman…with a rather reluctant model…

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Unzipped

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Zipped

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Back

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Action shot

For those of you who had to wear school uniform do you remember all those woven name tags that had to be sewn into shirts, skirts, trousers, socks, pants, shoes, blazer and anything item that was not tied down? Well I found a few left over from primary school days and of course one had to be sewn into this jacket – just in case there is another one exactly the same at uni!

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Leftovers were made into a scarf (with name tag too).

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Fully lined

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I always have a problem joining front facings to the hem. I have to ‘patch’ the join in nearly every jacket I make and this one was no exception. Any suggestions about what I’m doing wrong or better still, how to do it right, will be gratefully received.

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Over the next few weeks children who once were little will be heading off to university.

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Good luck, work hard, enjoy yourselves, phone your mothers once in a while and do your own washing before you come home!


60 Comments

St Paddy’s Day Blues

Right you lot, stop distracting me with your Kantha coats and Japanese draped tops and patchwork quilts – I’ve a SWAP to finish.

Today is St.Patrick’s Day and I usually wear something green but today I’m in blue.

Three more items done for SWAP ’15 and likely two that required the most work (at least I hope so, or else I’ll never be finished in time!).

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Corset top and pencil skirt, reverse applique with leaves, and a long cardigan/coat, single layer with applique strips around hem and sleeves.

DSCN5105The top and skirt are relatively small items to sew in that they are fitted and there’s not a lot of fabric involved and so hand sewing round all the leaves didn’t take as long as say a flared maxi dress.

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The corset top pattern comes from Alabama Stitch Book and I love it – form fitting, flattering and wears really quite like a – corset. Bit of structure with just a few running stitches; hard to believe this is possible in cotton jersey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The skirt is self drafted pencil skirt – essentially two rectangles wide enough for my hips and curved at the waist and hem. No darts or waistband, I rely on the cotton jersey to stretch and fit.

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The cardigan is Burda suit coat because I liked the piecing and thought this would show off the stitching better.

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So a recap on completed items:

1 pair of trousers

1 long sleeved T-shirt

1 maxi skirt

1 cardigan/coat

1 corset top

1 pencil skirt

1/2 a bolero

2 tops/3 bottoms and a wildcard – good grief, I’ve a lot to do. Only 6 out of 11 and I have to figure out a refashion/reversible item yet.
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I need 5 tops/3 bottoms/ 2 wildcards/ 1 reversible by end of April.

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I may have to instigate radio silence until then…..